KINSHASA, November 18 – Here is a breakdown of the different armed groups present in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive Nord-Kivu province, where the rebels of Laurent Nkunda are taking on a coalition of the DRC army, Rwandan Hutu rebels and Mai-Mai militias.
– DRCONGO’s ARMED FORCES (FARDC)
The DRCongo army, which is underquipped and badly paid, has been in the process of being restructured since 2004. Under the reform former combatants, which have come from different regions, ethnic groups and belligerent factions are to be disarmed.
Those who choose to stay in the army are trained before being integrated into new units, while the others receive aid to help them reintegrate into civilian life. Since 2004 some 102,000 people have been demobilised bringing the number of the DRCongo’s troops to 120,000.
It is estimated that around 35,000 fighters still have to be disarmed. The long-term objective is to set up an army of between 100,000 and 120,000.
– LAURENT NKUNDA’S REBELS
The forces of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) of the Congolese Tutsi rebel leader Nkunda are estimated at 5,000 by the United Nations. The renegade general has been taking on the Kinshasa authorities which it accuses of discrimination against the DRC’s Tutsi minority.
According to the International Crisis Group the rebels receive military supplies and medical assistance from Rwanda.
The CNDP actively recruits soldiers from Tutsi refugee camps and from demobilised soldiers of the Rwandan army. Kinshasa accuses Rwandan troops of direct involvement with the rebels, but this has not been proved.
In early October Nkunda announced that the CNDP was transforming itself into a national liberation movement.
– RWANDAN HUTU REBELS
Hutu rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), are estimated at several thousand combatants, and are the main group of Rwandan rebels in the DRC.
The FDLR rebels have been accused by Kigali of having taken part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which has left 800,000, mainly Tutsis, dead according to the United Nations.
The movement has sone through a series of splits. Several FDLR chiefs are on the list of UN sanctions and the movement is considered as a terrorist organisation by the United States.
Nkunda accuses the DRC army of continuing to support the FDLR, which fought alongside government forces against rebels backed by Rwanda during the 1998-2003 war in RDC.
These self-defence militias, which come from different ethnic groups which describe themselves as tribal, regularly fight on the side of the DR Congo troops and serve as auxiliaries.
They say they are defending the country against the hegemonic intentions of neighbouring countries, in particular Rwanda. During the 1998 to 2003 war they fought foreign forces in the DRC and the rebel movements they were backing.
The main Mai-Mai group is the Congolese Resistance Patriots (Pareco) movement of Colonel Janvier.
The UN Mission in DRC (MONUC) is the biggest peacekeeping operation in the world, with 17,000 soldiers of which 6,000 are in Nord-Kivu.
The Monuc, started to deploy in 2001 in the DRC with a mandate authorising the use of force, especially to protect civilians.